La Liga: A history of strikes in Spanish football

The €50m in unpaid wages owed to around 200 first and second division players, and the insufficient wage guarantee fund that has led to the current conflict between the Spanish Footballers´ Association (AFE) and the Spanish League (LFP), is not the first instance of La Liga players downing tools.

The 1979 strike:
This took place in March a year after the AFE was created with just 1,700 members. At the time clubs held the rights to a player’s registration even though his contract had ended and the AFE demanded the abolition of this and for players to be included in the Social Security system; there was also a call to abandon the 23-year age limit for players in the third division. All the requests were met.

The 1981 strike:
Before the start of the 1981-82 season the AFE called a strike in order to get clubs to pay money owed to players and to abolish a rule stopping those under 20-years-of-age from being selected for the first team. On this occasion the first round of fixtures on September 6 was cancelled but the following week’s games went ahead with youngsters chosen. The strike ended when the league granted the players wishes on both matters.

The 1982 strike:
The same season saw another strike called for April 11, three games before the end of the season, although it had little impact. A solution had still not been found to cover the non-payment of wages and money owed, plus the issue of players’ earnings from advertising revenue and television broadcasting rights had not been addressed as promised. The proposed stoppage was called off the following day as players had not received enough notice.

The 1984 strike:
In September 1984 the players again demanded clubs pay their debts and also wanted to be involved in negotiating television rights. Consequently, the ninth week of the season was played with clubs fielding juveniles, although the next round of games, on September 16, was suspended completely after a judge ruled clubs were not allowed to field youngsters. Once again, the league gave in to the AFE’s demands.

The 1997 strike:
The last players’ strike in Spanish football occurred before the start of the 1997/98 season, although it was called off after a compromise was reached between the AFE, LFP and the Real Federaci

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